Mendoza Mejìa, Ligia Andrea (2017). 'Sexual and reproductive empowerment of women through land tenure.' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Cape Town 2017.



Male dominance is perhaps the most penetrating and tenacious system of power that has ever existed in history ... because it is almost metaphysically perfect. His point of view is the standard measure of objectivity, its particularity is presented as the meaning of universality, its strength is exercised as a consensus, its authority as participation, its control as the definition of legitimacy ...(Oxaal and Baden 1997;Johnson 1994).

In all societies women have less decision-making than men on strategic aspects of their lives, what characterizes feminist visions on this subject is the recurrence of concepts such as power, rights, interests, choices and control (Oakley 2001).

 The problem of women's sexual and reproductive health at the global level has varied from demographic policies to significant progress in the development of public policies aimed at ensuring sexual and reproductive health and access to contraception at all levels of the reproductive age population (Zaldúa 2010).

Women worldwide face a series of limitations and barriers to the enjoyment of their sexual and reproductive rights. In the Latin American region there prevails a patriarchals culture where to the man is demanded uncontrollable sexual behaviors whereas the woman is required to be an asexual entity. The lack of resources and access to adequate reproductive health services symbolize to the women  the teenage pregnancy , high rates of maternal and infant mortality, risk of infection of sexually transmitted diseases and the full enjoyment of good sexual and reproductive health (CELAC 2016).

Theoretical approach

 The view towards gender inequities provides the problematization of the dichotomy between public and private space, and allows discussion in the public sphere, on aspects that correspond: decision making on the body, sexuality and Reproduction of women (Oakley 2001).

Some authors have highlighted the strong connection between empowerment and redistribution of power. For Batliwala (1997), empowerment is the process of challenging existing power relations and gaining more control over the sources of power ... (and) manifests itself as a redistribution of power, whether between nations, classes, Races, castes, genera or individuals.

Gita Sen (1993) has defined the empowerment of women as the "alteration of power relations ... that constrain women's choices and autonomy and negatively affect their health and well-being.

The empowerment of a person begins when he analyzes how social limits restrict his ability to define how he wants to live and to get to enjoy the conditions to live as he wishes, and progresses through the critical identification of how these restrictions to his freedom work, until Get to define strategies to change them (Mosedale 2003) .

The power of interest is that it allows women to build their own capacity to change the social boundaries that define what is possible for them. And the question that matters is whether development interventions that seek to empower women effectively manage to change those boundaries (Mosedale 2003 and Nussbaum 2002).

Nussbaum 2002 defines empowerment as the process by which women redefine and extend what is possible for them to do and to be in situations where they have had restrictions, compared to men, to be and do what they want.

Methodological approach

This research analyzes the sexual and reproductive health of women of childbearing age in the municipality of Jinotega (Nicaragua) in terms of gender relations. The study subjects are women of reproductive age (12-49 years), which were analyzed according to their degree of association to a coffee production cooperative or a community association.

 The study was carried out through the mixed research method. The articulation of the qualitative methodology (biographical methods) with the quantitative methodology allowed to use the strengths of both types of inquiry combining them and trying to minimize their potential weaknesses.

The study was developed with the application of 36 in-depth interviews to women and specialist in sexual reproductive health, sexual education and local actors and 378 surveys to women in reproductive age.


As results of this study, 15 life histories are obtained, reflecting the reality, limitations, obstacles and cosmovision that women have around the gender relations, social roles, maternity, paternity, characteristics of families and the elements that Defines sexuality and reproductive sexual health.

Through the methods of inferential statistics, we analyzed the socioeconomic and political-cultural variables, which influence the practices of Reproductive Sexual Health of women. Based on the multivariate logistic regression analysis, among the explanatory variables of reproductive sexual health, it was demonstrated that the sexual health of women depends on the articulation of the variables sexual education, sexual practices and property (land tenure).
In accordance with the results obtained in the multivariate logistic regression model, the different life stories and the interviews with the different key actors of the study show the protagonist role played by the variable property (land tenure), in relation to reproductive sexual health women.

The research shows an image of the socioeconomic conditions of the household and fecundity of the study population, it addresses the reality of rural women in matters of reproductive sexual health and the configuration that this has around gender relations and the empowerment.

As a result, the study shows that socioeconomic conditions of family life can establish differences in the shape of individual life strategies and projects of women and couples, which could in turn affect reproductive trajectories and the degree of economic and social empowerment of rural women.

In other words, for women, the land tenure (home ownership) in which they live allows them to obtain autonomy in decision-making regarding their sexual practices and to overcome obstacles and difficulties arising from traditional gender roles that are still prevalent in many communities of Nicaragua that limit the full enjoyment of Sexual and reproductive empowerment of women.

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